House Democratic Chair Stewart visits Knoxville

In a trip to Knoxville, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart visited his parents and other Democrats, appeared on a party TV show and declared Democrats are still relevant in the Legislature though outnumbered, reports Georgiana Vines.

Stewart was in Knoxville on Friday to appear with his parents, John and Nancy Stewart, on the Democratic-TV program on cable networks and then met with Knox County Democrats at his parents’ home in Bearden.

Mike Stewart spent his teenage years in Knoxville after John Stewart moved the family from Washington to work as a TVA executive following a career as an aide to Hubert Humphrey, the former vice president and U.S. senator from Minnesota, and with federal agencies.

You could say Stewart, 50, cut his political teeth on Humphrey. On the telecast, a picture was shown of Humphrey holding 15-month-old Mike. Stewart said he remembered Humphrey from being with his father once in his office and Humphrey handed him a TV remote, a novelty at the time, “to keep me out of their hair.”

Stewart is a graduate of Webb School in 1983 and the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1987. He spent three years in the Army and returned to Knoxville in 1991 to attend the University of Tennessee School of Law.

Upon graduation, he went to Nashville to practice law and has lived there since with his wife, Ruth, a family physician, and their family. He was first elected to the Legislature in 2008.

Stewart cited the work of former state Rep. Gloria Johnson, who represented the 13th District in 2013-14, as an example of a Democrat who can work with Republicans to pass legislation.

The example he gave was the Tennessee Community Schools Act, which allows a partnership with the school and community professionals for programs before, during and after school hours.

…Stewart claims to have no political ambitions beyond being in the state House, although his father would like him to run for governor someday.

“I am completely focused on being Democratic caucus chairman,” he said.